A man is found murdered, with witnesses convinced about the woman they saw leaving his apartment. However, it becomes apparent that the woman has a twin, and finding out which one is the killer seems impossible.
Olivia de Havilland,
Virginia Cunningham finds herself in a state insane asylum...and can't remember how she got there. In flashback, her husband Robert relates their courtship, marriage, and her developing symptoms. The asylum staff are not demonized, but fear, ignorance and regimentation keep Virginia in a state of misery, as pipesmoking Dr. Mark Kik struggles through wheels within wheels to find the root of her problem. Then a relapse plunges Virginia back into the harrowing 'Snake Pit'...Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Director Anatole Litvak insisted that the cast and crew spend three months visiting mental institutions and attending psychiatric lectures to prepare themselves for the film. Olivia de Havilland willingly threw herself into the research. She attended patient treatments at the institutions, and observed electric shock therapy and hydrotherapy first-hand. When permitted, she sat in on doctor-patient therapy sessions. She also attended social events for patients at the institutions. After seeing the film, a "Daily Variety" columnist questioned whether any mental institution would really allow violent inmates to dance with each other at a social event. De Havilland personally called the columnist to confirm that she had attended several such dances at institutions. See more »
After the young Virginia smashes the head of the soldier doll (that reminds her of her father) into several pieces, she is later seen carrying the unbroken doll on the night of her father's death. The intact doll again appears in the apartment that she lives in as an adult. See more »
Virginia Stuart Cunningham:
It was strange, here I was among all those people, and at the same time I felt as if I were looking at them from some place far away, the whole place seemed to me like a deep hole and the people down in it like strange animals, like... like snakes, and I've been thrown into it... yes... as though... as though I were in a snake pit...
Doctor Mark Kik:
A snake pit?
Virginia Stuart Cunningham:
Later, weeks later, I understood. I remembered once reading in a book that long ago they used to put insane people into pits full of snakes. I think ...
[...] See more »
The beginning of this movie has Virginia Cunningham sitting on bench but her not knowing where she is. She soon finds out that she is in a mental hospital. She doesn't know why she's there. She doesn't even know her husband when he appears. The only allegiance she can form is with Dr.Kik,who she trusts. This is a time when mental patients were treated horribly. May 6th seems to be the underlying problem with her mental condition. Everyone she lost seems to revolve around this date, and on the out side, she gets completely paranoid when she knows this date is coming. Through Dr. Kik's compassion and shock treatments & psychotherapy, she gets to understand why she became ill. But,that's the beginning and end of the picture. What happens in the middle(all contained in the hospital) is a memorable performance given by Olvia DeHavilland, the treatment she gets, the other patients, the nurses,the darkness of the hospital all add up to, I think one of the best movies made.
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